Kanji Takeno: TU’s Commencement Ironman

By Kyle Hobstetter on May 18, 2017

After 20 years, Towson University's director of photographic services continues to be a fixture at the school's biggest event.

For the past 20 years, Towson University has seen many changes. But one of the mainstays on campus has been Towson University’s director of photography — Kanji Takeno. From his classic “Three…Two…One...” before snapping a picture to being at just about every event on campus, Kanji has become a fixture at TU. This video provides a closer look at TU’s resident photographer, lecturer and friendly face.

One of Kanji’s favorite events each year is the Towson University Commencement ceremonies that take place each May and December. He is one of the few employees in attendance at all nine ceremonies in the calendar year. At each ceremony, Kanji does not sit down and always has his camera ready to take pictures. He truly is the ironman of Towson University’s Commencement.

Here is a look at a few numbers, figures and statistics about Kanji and Commencement.

Kanji Commencement Fun Facts

150th Graduation

What's In A Name?

Kanji’s first spring commencement holds special meaning to the university, because it was the last commencement for Towson State University. The following summer, the university’s name was officially changed to Towson University.  

Kanji's Boots

Keeping in Step

Kanji is on his feet throughout every commencement ceremony. In fact, he wears a pedometer to track his steps. According to him, he takes around 20,000 to 25,000 steps each Commencement day.  

Kanji with cameras

More Than A Couple Cameras

Kanji brings a lot of equipment to Commencement. Between him and Assistant Director of Photography Lauren Castellana, the two use seven different cameras and multiple lenses. He estimates that he carries over 18 pounds of equipment at a time.

President Schatzel at Commencement

Presidential Portraits

Since Kanji has been the director of photography, there have been eight different presidents who have overseen Commencement. This includes five presidents (Hoke L. Smith, Mark Perkins, Robert Caret, Maravene Loeschke and Kim Schatzel) and three acting presidents (Dan Jones, Marcia Welsh and Tim Chandler).    

Kanji Hat Photo

The Man In Black 

If you have trouble seeing Kanji on the Commencement floor, that’s because he’s dressed to blend in. His outfit includes a black shirt, black tie, black belt, black shoes, and in his words, “a cool tie clip.”

Kanji's Family

A Family Occasion 

Kanji has befriended many students in his time at TU. It’s no surprise to see him get a hug after students walk across the stage. But he does have a favorite TU graduate — his daughter Emily. She graduated in 2014 with a master’s degree in occupational therapy.

TU Commencement

A Full Day's Work 

Kanji puts in a lot of work during Commencement. In fact, he usually works a 13-hour day — coming in at 7:30 a.m. and heading home at around 8:30 p.m.

TU Commencement

Plenty of Photos 

Commencement is full of moments, and Kanji always tries his best to capture them. That’s why he never puts down his camera. During a Spring Commencement week, Kanji estimates he takes more than 10,000 photos over the six ceremonies.  

TU Commencement Final Wave

One Final Wave 

Before the actual Commencement ceremony, graduates gather in the Towson Center to get ready for the event. Before walking into SECU Arena, students line-up by alphabetical order. There they wave for one last photo with Kanji, who gets a giant group photo from the mezzanine area.